Monday, September 5, 2011

Jane Helena Tuckey

When Peter Guggenheim began researching his Wiltshire family history he discovered not a 'rags to riches' story but more a decline into genteel poverty.

Peter's great grandmother, Jane Helena Tuckey was born on March 15th 1848 at Langley Burrell, the fourth daughter of Robert and Ann Tuckey.

The 1841 census returns for Yatesbury record wealthy, bachelor farmer Robert Tuckey living with Ann Trotman, an unmarried servant and her four year old daughter.

Perhaps Tuckey family opposition to this mismatched alliance delayed a wedding. By the time the couple did get around to walking up the aisle at St. Saviours in Bath they had two daughters and Ann was pregnant again.

But by 1851 Robert had come into his inheritance and the growing family moved into Shaw House along what is now called Old Shaw Lane in West Swindon.

In 1872, shortly after the death of her father, Jane married farmer John Clarke, thirty years her senior, and moved to nearby Kington St. Michael where John farmed 381 acres. With 20 farm and house servants on the payroll, this was a big establishment.

Jane Helena Tuckey pictured around the time of her 21st birthday

Quite what happened to the family fortunes remains unknown but by 1882 Jane and John were farming at Minety. It was here that John suffered a heart attack and was found dead in one of his fields. Jane was left with four daughters aged between 7 years and six months to support.

Peter describes this as a defining point in her life, which became "less prosperous, and with little doubt, a struggle there after."

In 1884 Jane married Francis Dicks. Her second husband, seven years her junior, was a fitter employed in the GWR works. The couple with Jane's girls moved into 37 Hawkins Street, Rodbourne where a further two children were born.

In the small terraced house Jane's lifestyle was far removed from the comfortable childhood she had enjoyed playing in the orchard at Shaw House.

Widowed for the second time in 1903 she survived on an income derived from taking in a lodger.

Jane died on November 26th 1918 aged 70. Peter says family memories were of a lady of 'manners and style' whom an aunt described as someone who had 'come down in the world.'

Frances Bevan

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